Can We Make Do with Monopoly?

monopoly_dice cropNow that the rest of America is living hand-to-mouth like my family, I’ve noticed a huge change in the mindset endorsed in advertising. Before our nation’s official recession, it was all about what we “deserved,” regardless of whether we “earned” it. Like a way-too-big house, a gas-guzzling V8 or that Fantasy Island dream vacation.

Now you see an insurance company cajoling you into believing that playing a board game around your dining room table or watching a snowy TV screen in the garage is the new Disney World adventure. A paper towel’s absorbency is exalted when a couple, in their messy attempt to get their family budget under control, save their Starbucks’ bucks by making their own cappuccino and playfully spray the milky foam all over their countertop. And I can’t remember the last time I saw a Hummer commercial—it’s all about hybrids.

Yeah, yeah. It just warms the cockles of my heart (if I had one…) but what I wanna know is—has America had a mass epiphany about family values, or are we just trying to talk ourselves into being happy about accepting less? It’s like asking for a Louis Vitton handbag and getting an L.L. Bean backpack. The knapsack will work just fine, but it’s not what you had in mind. Oh well. Welcome to my world.

Personally, I think some of this 180-advertising is Corporate America’s way of keeping the masses under control. Fearful that consumers will rise up and scream out “Hey—what happened to all our money?” we are being placated into believing that it’s okay to be broke. Granted, a lot of individuals’ fall from grace has something to do with their personal greed. But some of problem is bigger than even that.

According to the National Debt Clock, at this moment, our Outstanding Public Debt is $11,808,207,536,564.75. Let me check my pockets, I think I’ve got the 75-cents.

Paying to Homeschool

cohdra_100_2915Another homeschooling mom recently told me she attended a “relaxed” or “unschooling” networking group. She said it was primarily a social event as opposed to any information exchange between the parents. She also mentioned the afternoon get-together was held at a private home and how “nice” (translation: big and expensive) the place was. This wasn’t the first time that “nice” has been used to describe a homeschooler’s house.

With pure jealousy, bitter intent but sincere curiosity, I gotta ask—who’s paying for all this swag? Well, I’m gonna jump to the conclusion that, since most of these women don’t work outside the home, their husbands are the ones out there in the trenches digging themselves into early graves. And, gee, what kind of jobs would allow them to single-handedly bankroll these McMansions? Well, I’m gonna venture another guess and say whatever it is, I suspect it’s a career based on a solid, structured, traditional education. Basically everything unschooling isn’t.

How can a doctorial candidate write his thesis if he’s never learned how to organize a proper paragraph? You’re not gonna move up in military rank if you can’t take and follow out orders. And you certainly won’t earn those annual bonuses unless you’re willing to put on a suit and become a cog in the corporate wheel. These are the type of mindsets on which many homeschoolers frown.

So while hubby is working in that “sit down, shut up and do what I tell you” public school mindset carried over into the business world, Mom and the kids are acting on their whims in a freewheelin’ world where nobody tells them what to do. How does that make Dad feel? Does he even know his kids are being home educated? Do you think there are men out there who think their kids get on/off a school bus everyday? At this stage of the game, nothing would surprise me.

If a husband with a six-figure salary enjoys his career and all the accouterments that it buys, does he worry about what his unschooled kids are “going to be when they grow up?” Does he resent that they aren’t preparing to following in his footsteps? And why would they want to? I’ve been in homes when Dad walks through the door, nobody even notices. Do his kids realize that’s the guy who’s making their lifestyle possible? What must that poor man be thinking?

Or does Dad envy their unschoolers’ freedom but accepts it comes with a price? And who’s the one really paying for it? I just hope he’s taken out alotta life insurance…

Die or Get Better

Grave angel cropOn Monday, my upper right second molar went Super Nova. I take such lousy care of my teeth; it’s my own lazy-ass fault. But being among the working-class poor with no health or dental care, I’m not financially prepared to spend hundreds of dollars getting my tooth pulled, or worse—get roped into the whole root canal/crown route. So I rubbed the tooth. I paced around. I couldn’t concentrate. But we still did schoolwork. Morgan was sympathetic, but still had his own agenda. Finish so he could play.

That got me thinking about how a chronic illness or injury would affect our homeschooling. Shit, if I drop dead, Morgan might as well start packing. I suspect out-of-state military school will be in his future. But what if I got sick for a long time BEFORE I die? I hope I won’t linger long, making everybody miserable and resentful and wishing me dead—to end ALL of our suffering.

But I watched a TV news feature about how much money people spend for health care/meds that insurance, if they even have any, won’t cover. They interviewed a woman recovering from cancer who was bitching about her family’s debt caused by putting her treatments on their credit cards. Yeah, so? You want something, even if it’s life, you’re gonna have to pay for it.

But this woman was indignant. Like the government owed her affordable health care. Where does she think she is, Canada? She didn’t think it was fair to have to choose between financial security and her life. Well, darling, sometimes all the money in the world isn’t gonna save you. And even though we live in a country that will, for your own good, ban trans-fats in restaurants and ticket you for crossing the street while listening to your ipod, there’s NEVER gonna be affordable health care, let alone socialized medicine in these here United States. It’s just too big of business.

Okay, if I break my arm, I’d like to get it set, please. But if I’m just delaying the inevitable (since Death does come a-knock sooner or later), I hope I’m willing to go graciously. And if I stroke out on the kitchen floor with that cheeseburger locked in my hand—Do Not Resuscitate!

My responsibility is to NOT drag my family into a debt hole they could never dig out of. Grief fades, interest compounds.